If you are looking for something really exciting, I definitely recommend exploring the Tapolca Lake Cave.
Although the city is worth exploring on the surface, its main attraction is still the discoverable and adventurous cave system accessible by boat.
For those who don’t mind a little underground adventure and aren’t bothered by tight places, make sure to include it in your schedule if you visit the area.
The history of the formation of the Tapolca Lake Cave
The Tapolca cave system is highly protected, which of course does not surprise anyone.
The cave system consists of three caves: Tapolca Lake Cave, Hospital Cave, and Károly Berger Cave. Interestingly, it is the longest cave system in the Tapolca Basin and the fourth longest cave in the country.
Well drilling at the end of the back yard
The cave was discovered in 1902. An intact well was drilled on the site of a simple baker when the ground collapsed and a smaller hole was formed.
They thought for a long time about what to do, then one of the smaller workers, overcoming his curiosity, took strength and climbed through the hole.
After a little while, several people followed him and they noticed that they were in the hall of a huge cave with a ceiling height of 5-6 meters. The rest is history.
The 15 km long cave
The Tapolca Lake Cave was also the first electrically lit cave in Hungary in 1912. And unfortunately there was also a period when there was no water in the cave due to the local bauxite mining between 1982 and 1998.
In terms of its dimensions: it is 14,930 meters long, 34 meters deep, and 132 meters above sea level.
The inside of the cave system consists of well-crystallized and marly layers of limestone, as well as 1-2 cm clay strips. It was probably created by the Miocene Sea 13.7 million years ago.
The fact that in some places there are narrow passages and in others there are more spacious parts can be attributed to the mixing of waters with different temperatures, so called mixing corrosion.
The liquid infiltrating from the karstic limestone and dolomite areas of Bakony Hill provides cool karst water, while a part of it heats up to about 35-40 degrees at a depth of 300-400 meters due to volcanic after-treatment. Mixing these gives the cave’s water a temperature of around 18-20 degrees.
As the area rose somewhat over the centuries, the upper and middle passages became dry, while the deepest passages were submerged.
Then, in 2012, the Tapolca Lake Cave was renovated, so visitors are greeted by an unusual sight in the renovated and illuminated lake cave.
Sights in Tapolca Lake Cave
To get down to the really exciting part, we have to take a good many steps down. A pleasant temperature of 20 degrees awaits us, both in winter and summer time.
Dry parts of the cave
We can also tour the land for a short stretch, so dress accordingly for the slightly cool temperatures and slippery landscape.
Due to the several-meter-thick clay zone, no stalactites formed here. But we can also see the pisolite, aragonite, and Miocene shallow sea limestone precipitated from the cave air, in its horizontal stratification.
And for those who are not satisfied with just this, they can take a boat trip on the beautifully blue and transparent water of the lake, where the fish from Lake Malom in Tapolca appear and a wonderful tour awaits them.
The trip by boat, by the way, has been possible since 1938. The cave system formed by karst water is 270 meters: it includes both a land and water part.
The cramped, mysteriously lit routes exude an atmosphere that can be experienced only in a few places. If you’re afraid of tight places or closeness, this isn’t exactly for you, but you don’t have to worry and panic—so far everyone has come out, of course . 😀
There is one problem with the cave, namely, the fact that it is very popular, so sometimes you have to wait for hours. To avoid this, it is better to arrive in the afternoon or around the opening hours.
The cave can be explored by your own in about 20 minutes. If the line is still long, then you can spend your time in the renovated reception building, where an exciting exhibition awaits you.
There is also an exhibition in the Tapolca Lake Cave. This presents the wonderful and unusual world of the karst regions and their formation.
In the interactive exhibition, the tour guide leads the visitors around 10 rooms, so we can discover the mysteries of the cave.
The exhibition was divided into these rooms and parts: the 3D projection room, Stalactite room, Diving room, Bat room, Geopark room, and the Archaeologist and Prehistory room.
Children can even try crawling in the cave as climbers, and on the projectors they show the formation of the cave, the creatures that dwell there, and the forms and formations through 3D short films.
Of course, 3D glasses are also provided for the spectacular film seen in the cinema, which can be a great experience for every member of the family. There is also a children’s playground outside for the little ones.
The exhibition may be followed by a sharp action: the discovery of the cave. However, it is worth spending more than an hour on this program.
Why do I recommend a visit to the Tapolca Lake Cave?
It is amazing to think of a cave system created by nature that stretches under the streets of the city, which we can easily see and discover ourselves.
With the three-person boats, we can easily ride around the route, where we can meet the only animal living here, the common minnow. It’s hard to spot it, because its color blends into the cave.
The Tapolca Lake Cave is a perfect program for all who suffer from asthma and allergy, as the air down here is very clean and free of dust, so it has a no adverse effect on this type of disease.
In the passages along the boat we can often find such narrow passages that we don’t even need a shovel, it is enough to move ourselves forward with our hands, clinging to the wall. The mystical atmosphere is due to the already mentioned lighting, which often bursts from under the water, making the already turquoise water even more wonderful.
This section isn’t long, as I’ve already mentioned, it takes only about 20 minutes, but it’s just enough to get into this kind of movement, not to mention the clean air. It’s worth taking a really good big and deep breath here, as the time spent here is a real treasure for today’s urban lungs.
If you are already in Tapolca, it is worth visiting the other famous attraction of the city, Lake Malom (Lake Mill).
This tiny little lake certainly plays an important role in the water management of the Tapolca Lake Cave. This is because by damming Lake Malom, it is possible to keep the cave boatable.
You should definitely visit Lake Malom and its surroundings, as it is the perfect choice for a romantic walk or dinner at one of the nearby restaurants.
With human reason and scale, we can speak of an incomprehensibly ancient formation of millions of years, which is a small miracle lurking beneath the city. The Tapolca Lake Cave offers an insight into an era of earth history and a natural phenomenon that transcends man.
The exhibition will help you understand the formation while keeping you entertained as it is truly interactive. Or it may bring our own developmental story a little closer.
And exploring the cave itself is an amazing experience—for a while everyone can feel like Indiana Jones, fighting through the cave on land or in a boat. When you are in Tapolca it is a compulsory place to visit, which is fun for the whole family.